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Saturday, July 10, 2010


From Bollywood Sound to Glenn Gould and Johann Sebastian Bach

Music for Lamenting...and for Rejoicing

Watching the superb documentary about Glenn Gould made in 2005 by Bruno Monsaingeon took me back to beginning of my inexplicable love for the music of Bach.

It was almost accidental, my discovery of Bach. Don't have a musical background. I grew up in India listening to film music, now known as Bollywood music. I gave up on Bollywood  decades ago and have no clue about current hits. As far as western music went, I was familiar with the crooners -- enjoyed listening to Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra,and Nat King Cole. Later, the sound of jazz began to appeal; I became familiar with the music of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk. 

But western classical music was not a part of my world. It was in the 70's when commuting on the freeway from Silicon Valley to my job in downtown San Francisco and playing with the dial on the car radio that I found myself in KDFC, and a new world opened up. I found Bach. The late pianist Glenn Gould is inseparable from Bach. There are many pianists who have recorded Bach, some of the artists are great.  Yet, there is something about Glenn Gould's interpretation of Bach that makes him stand apart -- to  some listeners, if not to all.

I have CDs of Bach's music  performed by Andras Schiff, Yo Yo Ma, Martha Argerich, Helmuth Rilling, Emma Kirkby, Murray Perahia, Nigel Kennedy, as well as interpretations by jazz artists -- Blues on Bach by The Modern Jazz Quartet, and Play Bach, the French trio led by by Jacques Loussier. They are all good but, for me, Glenn Gould is No.1

Glenn Gould was born in Toronto,  Canada, in 1932 and died in that city in 1982.

The audio link, Contrapunctus V, track 5 of the Art of the Fugue from Wikipedia merits special mention.  It was the only organ recording made by Glenn Gould.  See copyright information

Currently, listening to A State of Wonder, complete Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould recorded in 1955  and in 1981.

A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations (1955 & 1981)
© Sony Classics/Amazon.com

MySpace In Music - Blues in H (B), Modern Jazz Quartet
MySpace in Music - Fugue No.5 in Re Majeur Jacques Loussier
MP3 clips available for  purchase


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